Monday, December 27, 2010
Gryphs battle injury bug (again), Regina update, Carleton recruit
Injuries play a role in the fortunes of every program and are a fact of life for every coach to have to deal with but the plight of Chris O'Rourke and the Guelph Gryphons this season has rarely been seen. Gryphs have not had a full lineup since September and just when O'Rourke thought that things couldn't get any worse, Guelph leaves today for the Classique des Citadins tournament at UQAM with only 9 healthy players and the likelihood that 3 more regulars are done for the season and a fourth is out for another extended period. Most noteable loss is 6'8" sophomore post John Brutto who has left school altogether to deal with personal issues. The London, ON native had a very strong start to his second season as a Gryph with big efforts against UBC and Fraser Valley in the pre-season but then sustained a back injury which limited his time in the first-half set of league games. Fellow 6'6" sophomore Matt Howlett, who has not played since Guelph's trip to Nova Scotia in early October due to a concussion, was set to play after Christmas but has come down with a case of pnemonia and will not travel to Montreal. Another post 6'9" Duncan Reid has his foot in a cast and is out indefinitely while 6'5" Sheriff Wierdu, a third-year wing who originally made the Gryphs as a walk-on three years ago is out for the season with a concussion. This leaves the Gryphs with just two healthy forwards (6'5" Gerald Greenidge and 6'7" freshman Andrew Beney) and 6'6" Kevin Cameron, who has a bad flu which caused him to leave practice early yesterday, bee-lining to the bathroom; his status for the tournament is unknown. On the positive side for Guelph, injured 5'11" guard Kareem Malcolm recently had a cast removed that was protecting his injured elbow - an elbow that now has a plate and 4 screws in it after he injured it in the first half. Originally thought to be out for the rest of the season, Malcolm is rehabbing to get back strength and full range of motion in the arm with a view of returning as early as the first week of February. As well, the Gryphs announced a recruiting commitment from 6'3" wing Jack Beatty, originally from Woodstock, ON (Woodstock C.I.) who spent part of this season with the REDA program in Hamilton. An athletic guard with skills and an excellent perimeter jump shooter, O'Rourke expects Beatty to garner major minutes immediately next season... Regina Cougars big victory on the second of a back-to-back in Edmonton against Alberta Golden Bears was critical in giving coach James Hillis' group a shot at finishing as high as 3rd in Canada West if all goes well in the second half. At a minimum, the victory provided some breathing room relative to finishing 7th or 8th and the expected tough first-round playoff matchup likely to result with UBC and TWU projected to finish 1-2 in CW play. Cougars expect their best overall player 6'7" Kris Heshka to be completely healthy after limping through the first half on a severely sprained ankle that he originally hurt in September. Heshka was clearly a step slow offensively, showing little of the athletic explosiveness that characterized his all-conference play the past two seasons and the injury also slowed him defensively as he found himself in foul trouble virtually every night. 6'7" Paul Gareau picked up much of the slack offensively including a 42 point game but Heshka needs to be the focus from the inside/out for Cougars to threaten the top of CW. 6'1" Jeff Lukomski is also fit and focused completely on his fifth and final season of basketball after playing db on Regina's football team for much of the first half. Hillis is excited about his two freshman 5'10" Brendan Hebert, an occasional starter who was able to run the team well in spurts but must avoid hitting the freshman wall that sometimes comes up in late January - teams also began pressing and forcing the action on the diminutive guard, something he'll have to likely deal more with. 6'5" Matt Campbell has seen limited time but has impressed with his ability to score even when playing little. 6'5" veteran forward Marek Downarowicz, garnering more time with Heshka's injury/foul situations, has been solid and adds more depth up front. The Cougars also has lost the services of 6'2" Jesus Mora who has returned home to Puerto Rico to attend to his mother who is ill. Regina is idle during the first weekend of CW play in January and will face Williston College before beginning a second half that includes a home-and-home with provincial rival Saskatchewan Huskies, trips to Winnipeg and Fraser Valley plus home dates with Thompson Rivers, Manitoba and UBC... Carleton Ravens recently received an official commitment from Ontario Provincial team member 6'6" Justin Shaver, who was originally scheduled to arrive at Carleton in time for this season but took another year to upgrade his academics and has done so successfully. Shaver is one of the top rated wing forwards in Canada according to several scouting services (Hoopstars rates Shaver as #10 in the entire class which is full of NCAA D1 pledges and prospects) and has a tremendous inside-out game reminiscent of ex-Raven Aaron Doornekamp, but likely without the consistent three-point shooting that the former Moser Award winner possesses. Shaver, a long-time member of the Ottawa Guardsmen club program, has a polished back-to-the-basket game and is an excellent passer. The 18 year-old also has a strong affiliation with the Ottawa Boys and Girls club, going back almost 12 years, as this video from March, 2010 attests. Expect Shaver, who played his first four seasons of high school basketball at Nepean C.I. before moving over to John McRae this season, to compete for time immediately in the Ravens rotation next season and become another in the growing line of all-conference/all-Canadian type players under Coach Dave Smart.
Posted by Mark Wacyk at 5:48 PM